"Thinking critically is at the heart of anyone changing their lives” – bell hooks “Do not ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, ask them what problems do they want to solve. This changes the conversation from who do I want to work for, to what do I want to do and what do I need to learn in order to be able to do that.” - Jaime Casap
As a teacher I’m a listener, facilitator and advisor. I seek to cultivate learning environments where people can ask questions; share what intrigues them and what they are passionate about; constructively challenge their peers, elders, and professors to work to the best of our abilities; take risks, explore possibilities and not be afraid to fail and make mistakes; actively seek out solutions; and be more informed citizens who are able to negotiate and interface with the complex world they live in.
I seek to supply people with tools that they can use in their work. Tools provide ways for processing and organizing information, however tools should never become dogmatic. It is crucial that the tools be analyzed and discussed so people understand why they work, how they can use them to communicate and facilitate their own ideas, and recognize when a tool needs to be discarded and new tools cultivated or invented.
I’m a firm believer in integrating improvisation and silliness as part of learning. Improvisation involves active problem solving which allows people to tap into their individual creativity, learn how to tolerate ambiguity, explore new realms of possibility, and to trust in a process. More importantly improvisation helps people develop self-esteem, confidence, and the ability to make choices. Silliness encourages people to laugh and de-stress.
As a teacher I’ve found it is crucial that I teach to who is in the room, rather than to who I want to be in the room. I often prepare a detailed lesson plan, however I need to be able to discard the plan and support what people are interested in investigating and discussing. I’m a guide and a fellow traveler, however not a dictator, and as a result I am constantly seeking for ways in which people can direct their own learning.
In my classroom I welcome failure and mistakes, where failure is an opportunity to learn and making mistakes is an important part of the process. What is crucial is to give people the skills to work through the mistake and not let the mistake define them. It is a chance to examine why an exercise, tool or goal did not succeed, and how to improve upon the exercise, tool or goal, so that the mistake does not keep repeating.
I also firmly believe in sharing resources, information and providing opportunities. I seek to cultivate in people curiosity, imagination, creativity, evaluation skills, and the ability to be more understanding of other people’s perspectives, so they can be a more globally aware, collaborative and responsible citizen.